Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Ten Favorite Christmas Songs

Christmas music has been playing now for about a month or so but honestly, I think it could play all year long as far as I'm concerned. I love the beautiful lyrics about the baby born in a manger; some of them written hundreds of years ago. While the traditional ones about Jesus are my favorite, there are a few Christmas songs that I really have fun listening to - and singing along with!

When Faith was very little I used to play The Denver Mile High Orchestra's swing version of Jingle Bells and would have her in my arms and we'd go dancing around the living room together. Maybe that's why that song is one of her favorites! Faith actually doesn't do well listening to the slower, more traditional songs as she gets very emotional and even a little weepy.

To learn the history of where these Christmas songs originated check out my Article: My Top Ten Favorite Christmas Songs and from Whence They Came

It was hard to narrow it down to just ten - but these Christmas songs are highest on my list:

O Holy Night

White Christmas

Jingle Bells

Feliz Navidad (Faith loves this song too! I think it reminds her of her Auntie Barbara who is from Mexico!)

Silent Night

Do You Hear What I Hear

Joy to the World

The First Noel

O Come O Come Emmanuel

Breath of Heaven

Other favorites include: Mary Did You Know, Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Let It Snow and I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Give the Gift of a Wheelchair

As with most kids in this country who have a physical impairment, our daughter has access to one of the most basic necessities of a handicapped child - a wheelchair. But for those disabled children in third-world or communist countries, many children with cerebral palsy or similar disabilities cannot so easily attain a a much-needed chair that offers the simple gift of mobility.
For just a $150 donation, a pediatric wheelchair can be given to a child in a third-world country
It is truly heartbreaking that these children who have no means of mobility are left home to lie in bed all day while their parents go to work. These children cannot attend school because they have no way of being transported to school or even the ability to sit up while at school. Some children who may have use of their upper bodies crawl on the ground to get from one place to another.

The worst part for these families is that they are looked down upon for having a child with special needs. Sometimes the father leaves his special needs child and moves elsewhere because he is embarrassed or he feels too much shame. Having a disabled child in some countries is a stigma and there are no such words as "special" needs.

While there is a lot of debate about our government and its health care system, we can be thankful that they can help families get basic equipment that is needed for special needs children. For many countries, the government simply does not care about citizens in their country who have a disability.

This is where the ministry, Wheels for the World, comes in to help. This ministry is part of Joni and Friends, founded by Joni Eareckson Tada whose international ministry for the disabled is well-known throughout the world. In case you haven't heard of her, Joni is a quadriplegic who as a teenager became disabled as a result of a diving accident. It is through Wheels for the World that over 90,000 wheelchairs have been collected, restored and distributed since its start in 1994.

The best part about this ministry is, along with the wheelchairs, recipients also receive the message of the Gospel. While it is the goal of the ministry to meet the physical needs of the disabled, it is even more important to meet the spiritual needs.

In 2013, the Wheels for the World team will be distributing wheelchairs and sharing the Gospel in several countries including El Salvador, Haiti, Peru, Thailand, Uganda, Poland, Romania, and China. If you are interested in donating money for a wheelchair to a disabled child, it is just $150 for one wheelchair, $300 for two wheelchairs and $450 for three wheelchairs. Just imagine - a wheelchair that costs thousands of dollars in the United States can be given to a child in need for just hundreds!

You can even donate a wheelchair in honor of someone by going here. You will be able to fill out a card that says, "Given in the love of Jesus by _____." Rob and I have done this in honor of Faith and what a huge blessing to be able to give a gift that can transform a child's life! We hope you, too, consider giving the gift of a wheelchair - and more importantly the gift of hearing about Jesus!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Festivities Galore

This season is known as the most wonderful time of the year and probably the busiest time of the year as well. Along with starting Christmas shopping, putting up our tree and thinking about getting our Christmas cards ready, we have taken part in some great Christmas events.
Faith checking out some of the ornaments on our Christmas tree!
Last Monday we kicked off the week with Faith's program at school called "Old Man Winter's Icicle Follies." Faith's music teacher had given us a CD with all of the music on it so Faith could learn the words better. And I must say, when Rob and I both heard the fast-moving music with all of the tongue-twisting words, we both thought the songs were a little ambitious for third graders. Wow were we surprised when they pulled it off! All of the third-graders did great! 

The best part was seeing Faith in the front of the gymnasium alongside the kids in her grade looking relaxed and singing right along with the rest of them. Although, I do admit that I had a moment when one of her classmates wheeled her to to front and then didn't put her closer to the risers. I almost went up there and re-parked her chair. I just didn't want Faith to stand out anymore than she already did. But I let it go and all was well.
Centennial Elementary Third Grade Winter Performance

Our cute little reindeer!
Faith even did great during the audience clapping which she usually startles and tightens up. We were so proud of her! It was a cute program and Faith has still been listening and singing along with her CD. The music is engrained not only in her head but her mom and dad's as well!

Last Thursday I took part in Java JOY's Christmas JOY event at Boneshakers. It was a nice time of gathering together with other ladies singing Christmas carols, listening to Christmas stories and sharing, relaxing and drinking delicious hot drinks. The JOY ministry was also able to bless the girls at Teen Challenge with the book, Jesus Calling for each of them, along with some much-needed laundry items.

On Friday Faith went to the Bell Mehus for the Nutcracker Suite ballet performance. When she and her dad picked me up from work that evening, it was all she talked about. She loved seeing the dancers and hearing them sing. She told me about the stage and their costumes and all the different colors she saw throughout the performance. I am so glad she went and even happier that she enjoyed it so much. Again, she seems to be doing better with crowds, loudness, clapping and doing things as a group with her classmates.

After work on Friday we briefly stopped by our pastor's home where he and his family were hosting their Christmas Open House. This is something they do for their congregation every year but they have to break it up into two separate days so they can accommodate everyone in their home. We didn't stay long as we all had a long week and Faith was ready to go home and stay home, which we did all day Saturday.

Sunday night I went to "The Reason 2012 Concert" which was a sold-out show held at Evangel Assembly of God. The event was put on by the evangelistic outreach, PULSE - "a movement of young adults running after God's heart for this generation." It was an awesome event and it was great seeing Kutless, Moriah Peters and Fargo, North Dakota natives David Lubben and Nick Hall but the best part was seeing how many young people stood up to declare a new commitment or re-commitment to Christ!
Members of the band, Kutless, David Lubben and Moriah Peters
Next weekend we are going to try to go to New Life's Christmas pageant, One Starry Night which will be held at 4916 N Washington St. here in Bismarck from 6:00-8:00 p.m. It is sort of a walk-through event that helps you to experience Mary and Joseph's journey to the manger.

It is definitely the most wonderful time of the year as we celebrate the birth of our Savior and although it can also be the busiest time of the year, I pray that all would remember the true meaning of Christmas!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Faith's Fun Week at School

At least once a year, Faith's school has a fun week where there is a theme each day on how to dress. When Rob was getting Faith ready in the mornings, he really didn't put too much effort into making sure Faith was dressed according to the theme of the day. I used to love having these fun weeks at school and I loved getting Faith ready each day this week. Here is what her fun week looked like:

Monday - Faith's favorite day of all - Pajama Day!

Tuesday - Backwards Day - even Faith's smile is backwards!
Wednesday - Tie Dye Day!
Thursday - Faith sportin' her school spirit - Centennial Roughriders
Friday - Wacky Day!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 30 is Newborn Heart Defect Screening Awareness Day

November 30 is Newborn Heart Defect Screening Awareness Day. I think it is very important to spread this awareness, especially since congenital heart defects (CHD) are the number one birth defect in babies. CHD affects 8 out of every 1,000 newborns and is responsible for more deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defect. A simple screening, which is done via pulse oximetry done within the first 24 hours of the baby's life, could prevent such deaths from happening. One such death was a five-day old baby named Cora

I was born with a congenital heart defect and nobody knew until I was about five or six months old. My mom began noticing that the simplest act of eating from my bottle completely wore me out. And when my lips and fingernails began to have a bluish tinge to them, she knew something was very wrong. Unfortunately at that time we lived on an Indian reservation in Wolf Point, Montana so there weren't a lot of specialists in the area. The closest one was in Great Falls and that doctor told my parents there was nothing that could be done. Thankfully, my parents took me to a pediatric cardiologist in Bismarck who confirmed I had a heart defect and that I needed surgery.

Things are so much different than they were in the 1970s. At the time, there was hardly any available information regarding congenital heart defects and the technology was not there to detect such defects. Times have changed and since these screenings are now available, I strongly suggest that if you have a newborn or are going to have a baby get him or her screened for a heart defect.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What? No Whip Cream for the Pumpkin Pie?

Me and my little family of three have a Thanksgiving tradition of going out for thanksgiving dinner on our own. This year, though, we invited another family of three to join as as they had done years ago after we first moved to Mandan. We had met this family at a church in Mandan and have recently reconnected with them as we all now go to New Life Church.
So thankful to be reconnected with this wonderful family!
So today we headed out to one of the buffets at a local hotel. I was looking so forward to eating a delicious turkey dinner and having pumpkin pie with whip cream for dessert. As we walked into the dining room, however, the first thing I noticed was that the pieces of pumpkin on the dessert tables were not topped with whip cream. I wasn't going to complain though, as I didn't want to appear to be ungrateful on Thanksgiving of all days.

As we sat around the table, enjoying our delicious turkey dinner I couldn't help but notice that nobody was taking the bare pumpkin pies set out on the tables. As I finished my second helping of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, I began to think hard about my dessert choice. Was it even possible to eat pumpkin pie without whip cream, I wondered.

I couldn't hold back any longer, I had to say something. "I'm a little bummed that there is no whip cream for the pumpkin pie." Apparently, I wasn't the only one. All the sudden the family we were with started getting every server's attention asking if there was any whip cream for the pumpkin pie. They said they would check but nobody came back with any whip cream. Finally, Peg decided to hunt someone down in the kitchen.

Just as she left, a server walked by with a piece of pumpkin pie with whip cream! I almost yelled, "Hey there's a piece of pie with whip cream!" I wasn't the only one who noticed. Jeremiah, a college football player, was quick to take action. "Excuse me, ma'am. Could we get some whip cream for our pie?" She seemed to be bothered by his question and curtly replied, "hold on just a minute." (Before seeing evidence that there was whip cream in the building, he had been thinking of using the cookie salad as topping for his pie.)

We thought for sure she was never coming back. But she did return with a huge bag of whip cream and Jeremiah asked if he could just have the whole bag. I think he was serious! He had a piece of pie in front of him and she promptly topped it with a little squirt of whip cream. He was not shy about asking for more. He ended up having three or four pieces of pumpkin pie all topped with extra whip cream. 

She then went over to the table of bare pumpkin pies that were just sitting there, amidst one lonely piece of banana cream pie. As she began topping the pies with the wonderful, white whip cream, throngs of people came over and grabbed their piece of pumpkin pie.
Pumpkin pie now topped with whip cream!
It was a great dinner and we really enjoyed spending time with our friends. Faith spent a lot of time giggling and laughing eating mashed potatoes and gravy, cookie salad and even a few bites of turkey. And of course some pumpkin pie with whip cream!
Happy Thanksgiving!
It was tough getting Faith out the door, but once we did she had a lot of fun!
Cowboy fan in training?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Rough End to a Challenging Week

We made it to Saturday. It has been quite the challenging week.. While it started out great, it just seemed to downhill as the days went by. After having four days off from school, Faith got her haircut on Monday evening followed by a trip to the Healing Rooms where they were celebrating their 10 year anniversary.

Me, Rob and Faith all went in for prayer together and Faith received the scripture, "Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily: and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard." Isaiah 58:8.

They always write down the scripture verse for us on a piece of paper so we can take it with is. Faith was so excited, she grabbed the piece of paper and yelled, "I can't wait to show Lola my scripture!" Lola is one of the directors of the Healing Rooms and was sitting at the front desk that day.
Faith with Bob and Lola - directors of the Healing Rooms of the Northern Plains
Tuesday, however was a different story. Last weekend we had a snow storm during which we received freezing rain first then 10 inches of snow. The plow had come through our parking lot but didn't do a very good job and needless to say, our van couldn't get out of its spot.

Rob and I had to walk Faith down to school on the very icy, snowy sidewalk. When we made it back from our trek to school, Rob and I tried to get the van unstuck. He rocked and I drove but to no avail. I went upstairs and called my supervisor because I was running late for work. Our neighbor kindly helped us push the van out and Rob spent the rest of the day shoveling.

The next morning, while Rob went to get the van ready, I wheeled Faith to the elevator only to find out it wasn't working. A handicapped-accessible building with no working elevator is not a good thing! I ran Faith back to our apartment, locked her inside then found Rob. He had to take her downstairs first then he went back up for her chair. Needless to say, she was late for school and I was almost late for work again!

That afternoon, Rob and I had our yearly appointment with the Social Security people here in Bismarck to get her re-qualified for her SSI. Thankfully, the appointment went well and the day improved from there. Since I took that afternoon off form work, Rob and I got a chance to go out and eat before our Bible Study that evening in which we had an awesome session on Relentless Prayer.

Along with all of this going on, the week was another very stressful one at work. We had a recent conversion with another health insurance company which is always a little challenging but even more so when we barely receive any training for it. Finally Friday came only to have Faith come down with a cold. Of course when she is not feeling well, she wants her mommy so I took care of her last night and neither of us slept very well.

Thankfully, we had respite care this morning so I did get a chance to sleep. I felt bad because I missed the JOY event, Continuing Prayer, Care and Share. And I also missed watching the Bison's last home football game, which they won. Faith seems to be feeling better as the day goes on so hopefully tonight we'll all sleep well and make it to church tomorrow morning.
Spectacular sunsets like this always remind me of God's awesomeness
Through all the good and bad this week, one thing is certain - God is with us through it all and he cares about our challenges and every detail of our lives. I'm so thankful we can look to Him for strength in our times of weakness and for joy in the midst of our struggles.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Another Battle Ensues

It seems we have won the battle over Faith getting up and getting ready for school in the mornings. She is no longer protesting and wakes up in the morning excited to bring a "special guest" to school. Last week she pretended to get Clifford the Big Red dog ready for school but he couldn't fit in our van so he had to ride on top. She also talks about how when she gets to school she is going to help take care of one of her friends who is also in a wheelchair.
Faith has been doing great getting up and ready for school in the mornings!
A few things are helping Faith with her morning routine. One she is getting more rest and not feeling so fatigued throughout the week as she is only going half-days on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Another is that we have been feeding her Pediasure with 1.5 times more calories that what she has gotten before. This is helping with both her energy and her weight. Rob took her in to get weighed last week and she has gained almost a pound since getting the added calories.

While the mornings have been going great, we have a new battle to face at night. Getting her to bed has become our latest battle - one we thought we had already won. Sometimes as a ploy to get her own way, she tells us she wants more food in her tummy so she can stay up and watch her iPad.

I have a friend from college who has posted accounts on Facebook that she has actually had to pin her child down to keep her in bed at night. I'm sure if Faith could, she would be getting out of bed. The most she can do though is try to scoot herself off the bed. And that, along with making a lot of noise is the battle that ensues at night.

This past Friday night the only way we could get her to agree to go to sleep without having a nighttime screaming fit is for me to lay down in her bed with her. At midnight, she was still wide awake. I finally gave up and Rob took her out of bed and sat up with her on the couch. She screamed for about ten minutes before finally drifting off to sleep. Thankfully, none of us had to get up and go anywhere the next morning.
Faith ends her evening with her last feeding of the day while watching her ipad
Last night she was still protesting going to bed but it wasn't nearly as bad as the night before had been. We'll see what tonight brings. She doesn't have school tomorrow but her mom has to work and for that, I need my sleep!

Faith can be very strong willed - which has its good and bad points but we are both thankful that she is a fighter nonetheless. We just have to help her find the right things to fight for! And fighting going to bed just isn't one of them.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fun-Filled Birthday

For Faith's birthday this year, we decided to keep it pretty low-key. And even though we really didn't do a whole lot, Faith had a very fun-filled birthday. On Thursday, she took her favorite snack - goldfish crackers - to school to share with her classmates. Then after school she got to play her new Wheel of Fortune game on the PS3 with daddy. This is what I found when I came home from work that evening:

Of course Faith wanted to play her new game with me, which I very happily did. During all of this we took a little break to talk to Faith's Grandparents from Canada who called to wish her a Happy Birthday. We opened her presents from them while both Grandmother and Grandfather were on speaker phone.

Friday evening was another night of playing Wheel of Fortune then on Saturday, we finally had a chance to have birthday cake, for which Grandma came over. We also opened some cards from her aunties and their families. We've definitely had a great three days of celebrating Faith's 9th Birthday!

Faith loved blowing out her birthday candles!
Our birthday princess!
Faith and Grandma!
All tuckered out after all that celebrating

A song dedicated to Faith on her birthday because God has been so faithful:


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Parent Teacher Conference

It is so hard to believe that it is already that time of the year - time for parent-teacher conferences.  I don't know why but I always get a little emotional at these meetings. I think it might be due to the fact that as Faith gets older it becomes more apparent that Faith does not have the same skills as her classmates - and I become very aware of her disability. In fact, due to a new grading system, Faith is probably going to be graded as a first grader instead of a third grader. But at the same time I am so proud of Faith for how well she is doing.
Faith at school with her dad.
Those around her at school seem to be noticing a difference in her wanting to be at school rather than asking when she can go home. It seems to correspond to the time that I began staying home in the mornings to help her get ready for school.  I'm not exactly why this is because she still fights some mornings about not wanting to go to school but I'm glad to know that once she gets there, she does a great job. The other day after school I was sitting with her having her tell me about her day and she said, "And do you know what else I did today at school today mommy? I gave everyone my personal best!"
Faith getting wheeled to her classroom by her morning aide
Her speech pathologist told us how she goes over the class's vocabulary words with Faith and how she helps Faith to learn the words. Every week she learns three different words and going back, Faith has remembered every vocabulary word she has ever learned - except for one. She can't seem to grasp the word "downtown." Instead Faith keeps saying "boomtown." I guess she's thinking of western North Dakota!

Her teachers also noticed that when Faith is listening to someone who is speaking with the same tone of voice for a long period of time, Faith loses interest in listening. They notice that the more animation and the more inflections one is using, she remains more attentive. This can be a little problematic when she is trying to learn things on her computer by listening as a lot of the voices on the computer programs are somewhat monotonous. They also said every once in a while they have trouble getting her to do her tasks, including driving her powerchair. When her teacher said she can be a little stubborn sometimes, Rob replied, "She comes by it honestly!"

Faith with her special education teachers whom she's had since kindergarten
For the past couple of weeks Rob has been going to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays to pick her up early. We are trying to see if this helps to alleviate her fatigue during the week. We have also changed her two afternoon feedings to Pediasure with 1.5 times more the calories than she was getting in the past. We are hoping this will help her gain weight along with having more energy. We have seen a few digestive issues with this new formula but nothing major.  All in all, although there are still concerns with her energy level and some struggles in the morning, she seems to be doing well in third grade!

Here is a letter that her teacher shared with us today that was written by Faith with the help of one of her aides:

Dear Mom and Dad: 

Let me tell you about the first 30 days of third grade. My favorite thing about third grade is to learn. I also enjoy listening to Mrs. Ternes read to the whole class. We are reading Charlotte's Web. My favorite books to read are stories about Arthur. Reading is my favorite subject in school. Snack time is another favorite activity. I really like crackers the best. 

In gym, I like working with Judy. (Her physical therapist). I like to sing with Mrs. Hall in music class. I like third grade and all my friends here at school. 



Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Day I'll Never Forget

It's hard to believe that it was nine years ago today I was taken by air-ambulance from the hospital in Williston to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. Faith was very unexpectedly trying to make her way into the world 14 weeks early. The doctors and staff in Williston knew they did not have the expertise in dealing with a mom with a complex heart condition having a baby born so prematurely. I had been planning on having Faith in Rochester but not this soon! After all, my due date wasn't until January 6th.

After getting to Rochester, I was in the hospital for five days hooked up to a baby monitor. Faith seemed to be doing well and I was no longer going into preterm labor. Although I wanted to just go back home, the doctors thought it would be wise for me to stick around Rochester, just in case. The TravelLodge became my temporary home.
Faith in the NICU in Rochester, Minnesota where she was born
Rob had been going back and forth between Rochester and Watford City. And when we found out I was going to be staying in Rochester possibly until Faith was born, he brought me lots of books, movies, the VCR and even my desk top computer. Unfortunately he couldn't stay there with me because he was trying to keep our business afloat back home.

While in Rochester during that time, I mostly remember asking God why all of this was happening. I tried hard to focus on the scripture, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5). But I still had so many questions. Should I have even gotten pregnant in the first place considering the high risk? Why would God allow me to get pregnant if it meant going through all of this?

There is another scripture that says, "the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy" (John 10:10). Now more than ever I believe that is exactly what the enemy was trying to do - to steal Faith from me, to kill her and to destroy mine and Rob's lives.

There are a lot of people who question why bad things happen to good people. They oftentimes forget we live in a fallen world where both good and evil exists and that "our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
Thankfully, Faith stayed in my womb for another three weeks. And although she was born early with some damage to her brain, I praise God for the victory that she survived and that now nine years later she lives a blessed and abundant life - which is the second part of John 10:10 - "But I (Jesus) am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

And because of my daughter Faith, who tried to come so early nine years ago, my faith has been strengthened and I believe more than ever in God's amazing grace, His love for us, His faithfulness and His healing. Because we have experienced troubles and hardship, the joy is that much greater.

I have also come to understand that the words of James cannot be more true, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4).
Faith at about four years old - full of joy and love!
Soon our giggly girl will be celebrating nine years of life!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Faith's First Hayride

I honestly didn't know if we were going to make it to the hayride last night. Faith had been having a somewhat tough week again and the medication we were giving her for the bacteria in her tummy was causing Faith to nearly throw up. I canceled Grandma coming for grandparents day because I just wasn't sure Faith was going to be up to it.

Thursday afternoon Rob went to get her early from school and she was able to get some good rest. It helped because Friday she woke up smiley and in a great mood ready for the day. We promised her that next year both Grandma and Grandpa will come to Grandparents Day since they will be living here!

It worked out well for Rob to drive me to work then he and Faith came and picked me up and headed off into the country for Faith's first hayride. When we first told her about the hayride, she exclaimed, "just like Little House on the Prairie!" Well, it wasn't exactly like Little House as the wagon was actually more like a long trailer pulled by a truck instead of horses! And although our ride was very bumpy, it was probably nothing like it was back in those days!

A couple from our church graciously opened up their home to whoever wanted to come out for the hayride. They work with people with disabilities so their home is very wheelchair accessible. They even made getting onto the trailer for the hayride so accessible that a lady in her powerchair was able to come along for the ride!

Before the hayride, we had a wonderful dinner of hamburgers, brats, salads and lot of desserts. Faith could have done without the eating part - although she did eat some crackers and angel food cake - she just wanted to go on the hayride.

It was a rather warm evening with the temperature near 80 degrees. But those who participated in last year's event were thankful for the warmer weather as the year before it was quite chilly and they had to don their winter attire. This year, even after the sun went down, the temperature remained in the upper 60s.

Before getting Faith on the trailer, Rob made sure she was going to be as safe as possible. I held onto her while he wheeled her chair up the makeshift ramp then he and some other guys latched her chair down as tight as they could. Rob then carried Faith up and put her in the chair. She was pretty excited! While she had her chair to sit in, the rest of us bumped along on 900-pound square bales.
Faith enjoying her ride through the country!
As we got going, Faith became more and more tired and was ready to head back home.Eventually it got completely dark and the moon was out beautiful and bright and to her, that meant it was bedtime. Needless to say, we didn't stick around for the campfire.

When we got her home, the first thing she wanted to watch is Little House on the Prairie. We didn't think it was a good idea for her to have her feeding on the bumpy hayride so we had to wait until we got home to do it. She didn't get done until about 10:30 and as I was getting her pajamas on, she was falling asleep. As soon as I laid her in her bed, she fell asleep - it is a rare event for her to fall asleep so quickly!
The hayride reminded Faith of Little House on the Prairie
Unfortunately, I was not able to take very many pictures because my digital camera broke so I can no longer insert a disc. I think The max number of pictures the camera holds is eight. I really wish I could have taken more to capture the whole event.

It was a great experience enjoying time out in the country with Rob and Faith (my two city slickers). We got to pet some dogs, see some kitty cats and cows and go on a hayride through the sunflower fields on a beautiful fall evening. To me, it felt like home and it was a wonderful feeling!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Concerns for Faith

This week has definitely been interesting for our family. I started my new work schedule on Monday and it was so wonderful crawling into bed with Faith in the morning and gently waking her up. When she realized I was in bed with her, she said, "Mommy are you getting me ready for school today?" I pretended not to know how to get her ready for school so she proceeded telling me what to do and in what order. When I gave her a kiss goodbye she had the sweetest smile on her face.
Me and my sweet little girl
Rob was able to drive me to work since he needed the van that day. It all worked out perfectly and I was so happy to have spent the first part of the morning with Faith. Now fast forward to Thursday. Faith woke up saying she didn't want me to get her ready for school and when I tried to start the routine she became quite upset and demanded me to call the school to cancel. Where oh where was my sweet little girl?

Her fit escalated to screaming and yelling for over an hour. It was impossible to bend her into her chair as all of the high tone in her body was operating at full force. I felt really bad when I left Rob to deal with her on his own but there wasn't much more I could do.

Friday morning went better and she only went to school for half the day. In the afternoon she had an appointment with her pediatrician and then after that she was fitted for new foot orthotics. At her doctor's appointment, Rob discussed our concerns about her fatigue from a full week of school, her extreme gassiness and some feeding issues. He gave us a prescription to deal with her overly gassy tummy and suggested giving Faith a few afternoons off from school during the week.

Because she is constantly fighting her tone all day long trying to do things like drive her chair, work on her computer and keeping her head up, she uses much more energy than her classmates. She burns her calories faster than they are given to her. No wonder she runs out of steam at the end of the week!
This photo was from a few years ago when Faith was fitted for her last pair of orthotics.
I am really concerned about her fatigue and I'm worried about her weight as well. The sensible solution would be to try and get more calories into her but this usually results in negative digestive consequences. Her body can so easily get thrown off and out of balance. Soon, we're going to be starting another kind of pediasure with added protein and I really hope that helps.

After her doctor's appointment, Rob took her to get new foot orthotics. She may not be getting bigger around the waistline but she is getting bigger feet! It is sort of a long process that involves cold, gooey paste-like stuff getting wrapped around her feet and just above her ankles. She was very patient and was glad to see everyone at pediatric rehab again. Since starting her therapies at school, she doesn't go over there as much anymore. Afterwards, she had to go home for a quick feeding, then they came to get me after work. We made it home just in time to watch Wheel of Fortune.

I'm thankful it is the weekend so Faith can get some rest. For me, I'm going to be spending a lot of time praying for wisdom on how we can best help our daughter at this stage in her life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits - Home, Work and School

I really can't believe it is nearing the middle of September already. Time flies though when there is so much going on! It seems that once school starts our schedules go on overdrive!

I am very thankful to report that Faith is really enjoying third grade! She is back to driving her power chair at school and it is nice that her classroom is on the main floor so the only class she takes the elevator for is music. She really loves her teacher and this year she has one new instructional aide and also one new special education teacher. The special education teacher she has had since kindergarten had a baby in the spring so she is only working part-time.
Faith in her third-grade classroom
Unfortunately I was not able to attend her IEP meeting but Rob was able to go and it went pretty well. It is great to know that her principal, teachers, aides and therapists are all working together to help her accomplish her goals for the year.

They are going to focus more on learning through audio rather than visual - she has such great memorization skills when she hears something. Reading is still very challenging and she has not made a lot of progress learning visually. We won't give up on that though and are still praying she will be able to read one day!

Last week she had a doctor's appointment with her pediatrician and I was disappointed to learn that she has actually lost a couple of pounds since trying to feed her more solids and less pediasure. She is so skinny - only weighing 47 pounds. The hard part is she is so tall which makes her look even more skinny. (Part of it is genetics, I know.) Although her pediatrician is not overly worried about her weight, we are going to be trying a different type of enteral formula that contains more protein to see if that helps.

As far as work, I am going to be trying a new schedule next week so that I don't have to be there until 9:00 a.m. I can't believe I am trying this because I used to love my shift when I started work at 7:00 a.m. so I could be home at 4:00.  But I do miss seeing Faith off to school and by going in at 9:00 this will give me the opportunity to see her in the mornings plus it would give Rob the option of driving me to work if he needed the van that day. (Our Hyundai is not very reliable these days.)
Me, Rob and our Supergirl at our church picnic
Rob and I have started going to a small group study at our church (New Life) on Wednesday nights. I like to get involved in a women's Bible study in the fall but I'm so happy me and Rob are doing this together. It's is a video/book series called Relentless: The Power You Need to Never Give Up by John Bevere.

Although the church offers childcare so that couples can attend together, it is great that we have respite care available so that Faith can stay home and get ready for bed. A few other events I am looking forward to is the first Java JOY of the season and the Beth Moore simulcast at First Evangelical Free this Saturday

I know many look forward to football during this time of the year - I don't watch much NFL but I love watching the NDSU Bison football games on TV. I so wish I could go to a game at the Fargodome but the tickets are all sold out for this season. I will be cheering them on from home to win another national championship!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Celebrating Ten Years

In the year 2000 I rededicated my life to Jesus while living here in Bismarck, North Dakota. Just two months later I moved to North Carolina with my sister, Tesa. While in North Carolina, I made the decision to not do the dating thing and prayed that God would lead me to the man I was to marry.

To my amazement, that man happened to be living in my hometown of Watford City. I met him while going home for a long weekend just before my 28th birthday.

In April of 2002, I moved back home and one day while Rob and I were driving home from having dinner in Killdeer, we saw the most magnificent double rainbow while going through the Badlands.

It was an unspoken sign to both of us that we were meant to be together. We married on September 7, 2002 on the edge of those same Badlands in a little country church. In December we drove all the way to Toronto, Ontario - Rob's hometown - for a second wedding reception.Our life was a little crazy when we first got married as we were trying to run a business and before our one year anniversary, I became pregnant with Faith.
After our wedding reception we drove to Mountain View, Alberta for our honeymoon.
As I look back on these ten years, I see a road with some rough spots, a few unexpected curves and some detours along the way. I'm so thankful that through prayer and His word, God gave us a road map to help us find our way!

Though our journey has had its challenges, I'm thankful that we have taken the ride together and have been able to experience joy, laughter, understanding, friendship and love.

Today as we celebrate our tenth anniversary, I'm even more ready than ever to keep on truckin' and see what God has in store for the rest of our lives together! 

Click on the video to hear a song we had in our wedding:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

10 Ways Working Moms Can Volunteer at School

Guest Post by Carol Watson of

When children are young there is a lot of parent participation that’s encouraged through classroom parties and events because kids are still learning how to be away from home. 

Most kids want their moms to be able to volunteer at the school for these events so that they can still see their mom in the hallway or at the class party. However it’s not always feasible for working moms to volunteer onsite regularly.  Fear not, there are ways that you can volunteer, even if you work full-time.

Check out these 10 ways that working moms can volunteer at school:
  1. Coordinate class parties through e-mail.  Technology makes it much easier to plan events these days.  The teacher may send home flyers asking for snacks and craft supply donations.  Consider volunteering to coordinate these donations; this is an easy task to accomplish over e-mail or phone, and allows you to still participate in some way with the party.  
  2.  Cut out or prepare things at home.  Many times the teacher will have a need for different shapes to be cut out or packets to be put together for a party or upcoming project.  These types of activities can be sent home with your child and you can do them in the evening when you have time so that you can still be involved.
  3. Send money to help with a project.  With the cut-backs that the government is making, oftentimes the teachers don’t have enough funds to do creative projects with the kids.  By sending in money for a special project you can help the teacher explain a concept in a new and fun way.
  4. Make calls at night.  Many activities happen at the school and there may be times when there’s a need to call parents and remind them of an event.  For example, if the choir is going on a field trip on Friday and the kids need to remember to wear their choir shirts and to bring their permission slips, then working parents can make these kinds of calls from their cell phone while they are waiting at soccer practice or during the evening when they are home.
  5. Provide extra school supplies.  Throughout the year, the classroom supplies may start to dwindle.  Contact the teacher in January and ask her what items she is running low on and send in additional classroom supplies. 
  6. Ask your nanny to stand in for you.  If you have a nanny you could have her volunteer at the school in your place.  She may also be able to attend class parties or other daytime events when you are unable to attend.  Your child will be happy because they have someone there that’s cheering or clapping just for them.
  7. Join the PTA or PTO at your child’s school.  You may not have time to join the board of the PTA, but by supporting the PTA, your money goes towards a lot of projects that will benefit every child in the school.  Funding these programs for the students allows the school to concentrate their funds on other things, like teacher salaries.
  8. Chaperone a field trip.  A field trip is a one time commitment that you may be able to take off work for, if you plan far enough in advance.  If your child is going to the museum or aquarium with his class and you can take a personal day, you will be able to share that experience with him.  Unlike being a room mom or lunch mom, this is a one-time deal and something you can commit to and plan for ahead of time.
  9. Help with set up for an evening event.  Many times music or sporting events are held during the evenings. Offer to help with set up or clean-up for one of these events after you get off work.
  10. Volunteer to work at the concession stand.  Sometimes events like the school carnival will be held on a weekend. Volunteer at a booth or concession stand if you can.  The shift is usually only an hour or so and when it is over, you can enjoy the event with your child.
chaperoning a class field trip is a great way to get involved
The next time your child asks why you can’t come to the class party, explain to him that you have to go to work, but that you are still trying to be involved regardless. Remind them of the phone calls you made or the 30 hearts that you cut out for their class project.  Your child will appreciate that you are making the effort to be involved.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First Day of Third Grade

Faith is wide awake at 8:00 a.m. ready to get going on her first day of school
But before getting up, she has to get in one final stretch
Wow that was fast! Faith is all dressed and ready to go!
I am so happy that Faith is all smiles and excited to go back to school!
Daddy is very proud of his big girl!
So cool and ready for school!
The bell was ringing and Faith said, "I don't want to be late!"